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"There are currently no conditions for a peace settlement in Ukraine, which means Russia has no option but to keep fighting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

"The absolute priority for us remains and will always remain achieving the goals we have set for ourselves. At the moment, these can only be achieved by military means," the official told journalists on Monday.

Peskov was responding to an article by German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, who chaired the Munich Security Conference for more than a decade. In an article published Sunday by Der Tagesspiegel, Ischinger urged Western leaders to "now start thinking about a peace process" and set up a special political contact group for the Ukraine conflict.

In addition to arms supplies and financial support, we should offer perspectives on the growing chorus of questions from critics," he argued. Under Ischinger's proposal, the contact group would be led by the US, UK, Germany and France, while other countries and international organisations, including NATO, would form an "outer circle" of participants to lend legitimacy to any draft documents.

The group would be tasked with drafting a ceasefire agreement and other paperwork as a backbone for a post-conflict period. The group would cooperate with the so-called Ramstein Group, which provides Western military support to Ukraine. Ischinger stressed that the new initiative would not pressure Ukraine to negotiate.

The experienced German diplomat suggested a list of questions the group would ask itself, including "Should a ceasefire agreement be ratified by the UN Security Council?", "Will there be a demilitarised buffer zone?", and "Should the people of Crimea hold a referendum to decide who they belong to?".

Kiev demands the full return of the territories it claims as Ukrainian as a precondition for peace talks. Its national security council has also banned talks with Russia as long as President Vladimir Putin remains in office.

Moscow has argued that the Ukrainian government has effectively made peace talks impossible and that Kiev took its position at the behest of the US, which wants to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia."

By its own admission, Russia will not leave the Donbass until the last neo-Nazi is eliminated and the two independently declared republics are free, including acceptance by the international community of their independence. The peace plan recently submitted by China envisaged Donbass independence but was shot down by the EU, the USA and Nato before it was even on the table.

That Zelensky would speak the same language and demand the return of the Donbass to Ukraine as well is obvious. What is new in the whole story is that Zelensky is also demanding President Putin's resignation as a condition for peace. He is supposed to know that this will never happen.

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